Bush presses tax rebate package

US president urges Congress to pass $145 billion package to revive US economy.

    Paulson, right, said the package was temporary, but strong enough to make an impact this year [AFP]
    The US leader's announcment came amid a growing consensus on the need for the goverment to step in to stave off a recession with a stimulus plan based on tax rebates and breaks for businesses.

    "Congress and the administration need to work to enact an economic growth package as soon as possible," Bush said.

    Politicians and officials are pressing for tax rebate cheques of at least $300 dollars per taxpayer, with some parliamentarians seeking as much as $800 per person or $1,600 per household.

    Henry Paulson, the US treasury secretary, added that "The package should be robust enough to make an impact this year, and should be temporary so that it doesn't impact our long-term fiscal position."

    Recessionary fears

    Fears of recession have intensified over the past year follow a series of poor economic indicators in the US, and the ongoing fallout from the so-called sub-prime mortgage crisis.

    Stock markets have been falling
    for fears of worse to come [AFP]

    Al Jazeera's John Terret in New York said Bush's announcement was an attempt to encourage people in the US to spend more money rather than save it.

    "It amounts to a mandate from the government for Americans to go out and spend, spend, spend."

    Terret added that many in the US may be confused by Bush's speech as it was short on specific detail.

    On Thursday, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, had added his voice to the calls for the government action to aid the economy.

    Hundreds of thousands of poor US homeowners have defaulted on loans given out with little or no down payment, causing wider panic on the financial markets that businesses use.

    US lenders such as Citibank and Merrill Lynch have recently said they lost tens of billions in the sub-prime crisis.
     
    That situation has been compounded by higher unemployment rates, rising food prices and oil at around $100 a barrel.
     
    Meanwhile, stock markets across the world have been falling heavily on concerns that worse is still to to come.
     
    Bernanke's comments, coupled with news of a hefty loss at Merrill Lynch and a plunge in regional factory activity, further clouded an increasingly dire view of the economy.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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